Jim Rose '46

Year of Graduation: 
Jim Rose seated at a table during an Exeter reunion.

“Exeter teaches you to help one another.”

On the occasion of his 50th high school reunion, in 1996, Jim Rose reflected that Exeter had imparted to him an ability to “face new situations and challenges and to find new friends in strangers.” These are useful traits for Rose ’46; P’81, P’84, who has returned to campus for every one of his class reunions over 70 years, each time uncovering old friendships and making new connections.

Making new connections at reunions

“Plenty of people don’t go to their reunions because they say, ‘No one I know will be there.’ This is a tremendous mistake. It’s for the people you didn’t know at school …when you see them at a reunion and find that your paths have more or less come together,” he says.

As an example, Rose cites a dorm mate from his Exeter days who disliked the classical music Rose played on his phonograph. Decades later, at an Exeter reunion, Rose learned that that boy had become a board member of the Chicago Symphony. He also acknowledges that as a student who “wasn’t afraid to be alone” he didn’t know all of his classmates well, and he has used his return visits to get to know and appreciate them.

Rose’s like-clockwork reunion attendance started with two other schools: Princeton University and Harvard Law School. As a young lawyer in New York City, first with the law firm Dewey Ballantine and then Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, he was an easy train ride from his annual Princeton reunions. The routine — Princeton every year, Harvard and Exeter every five — was set by the time he took a job with the federal government in 1971 and moved with his family to Washington, D.C. For 28 years he was a federal employee, rising to acting federal insurance administrator in the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Today Rose and his wife, Anne, live year-round at Piper Shores in Scarborough, Maine. He maintains his connection with the Academy as a regular participant at Exeter Leadership Weekend and, naturally, by attending his reunions. This year he stepped in and helped class president John MacKenty ’46; P’75, P’78, to plan the event. He also has served as class correspondent since 2011, and recently signed on for another term.

Inspired to public service

This service to others comes easily for Rose. He graduated from Exeter in an accelerated program in 1946 to join the U.S. Army. “Exeter teaches you to help one another. My career in public service was inspired by that spirit,” he says. Exeter also sharpened the public speaking skills he has relied on throughout his life. “When you go away to school it is important to find something you feel you are good at, and that your classmates recognize as a particular talent,” says Rose, who as a prep was selected (with upper Gore Vidal) for the debate team. He also was vice president of the Exeter Senate and secretary of the Golden Branch, a literary society that sponsors debates. As a senior he competed for the coveted Merrill Prize Speaking Award.

Reflecting on his career and the various posts he held, Rose says the five years he spent as an Assistant United States Attorney in New York City were the most satisfying. He recalls collegial relationships between offices and his reputation for conscientiousness, his natural integrity enhanced by a keen awareness that his actions reflected upon the government. “It was an effective agency,” he says simply.

Jim Rose is still effective. He plans to attend his 75th Exeter reunion, in 2021. Chances are, he will find new friends among his classmates from 1946. 

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the summer 2016 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.